Three of us took our annual spring fishing trip to Fort Peck. We left Bozeman 3 days later then expected due to several severe cold fronts that kept the winds up and temps down. When we arrived at Rock Creek on Tuesday the 25th we were greeted by more Montana spring weather. The 25+mph winds and rain kept us off the lake Wednesday.
When we finally got on the lake Thursday we quickly realized the 47 degree high for the day and the strong winds would make fishing tougher than the last couple of years. We tried everything we could think of and fished everywhere we could. By the end of day 1, we had 12 fish include a small bass, a tiny walleye, a 6 lb carp caught on a jigging Rapala (that’s a first for us as well), and eight 2-4 lb pike and one nice 8.4 lb pike caught bottom bouncing. We would later realize even the pike fishing wouldn’t get any better than that for us.
Day 2 brought more cold weather and high winds but we managed another 12 fish all caught jigging except 1 bottom bouncing.
Day 3 we were kept off the water with high winds again. An all-to-familiar experience for those that fish Fort Peck. The weekend also brought the Memorial Day crowd so there were quite a few boats that toughed it out. They all reported how slow it was for them as well.
Day 4 (Sunday) the wind was minimal and the temps were up as was the weekend boat traffic. The day started out with a little excitement. Usually you have to watch out for sticks and other debris in the water, but never a deer. But to our surprise, we had to drive the boat around a mule deer that apparently thought it might be fun to swim across the dry arm of Fort Peck. The day got more exciting as the great Fort Peck gave up 3 of the nice walleye it’s known for; a 23”(3.8 lbs), 25”(5.1 lbs), and 28”(7.9 lbs). We only managed another 4 fish for a total of 7 for the day, but it was a nice day.
Our final day resulted in another 13 fish, all small other than a 3 lb smallmouth, a 24”(4.3 lb) walleye and a 27”(6.4 lb) walleye. But the real excitement began when we looked up to find a 5’ bull snake swimming toward us about 4 feet from the boat. Apparently he thought it might be nice to hitch a ride with us to shore. We couldn’t get away fast enough and he managed to climb aboard the boat’s ski ladder in the back. It was when he thought being in the main boat deck area would be better that things got real interesting. We managed to fight him off and get him back into the water as we revved the main motor to get away. The snake found his way to shore shortly after, but we were all running on adrenaline for a little while after that. Finally as we cleaned a couple fish to take back home, we had to fend off the constant onslaught of June bugs hitting our faces.
Although it wasn’t one of the most consistent trips, when we discovered the fish were down deeper in 25-35’ of water and wanted a very slow jigging presentation with grey and white short shank jig heads and a minnow, the walleye we did catch were good size. The pike seemed to hit green/chartreuse when we found them, but it was a one fish(if that) per rocky point kind of trip.
As we prepared to leave as out time off work had come to an end, we were greeted by a no wind, beautiful 60 degree spring morning. All in all, it was another adventurous spring trip to Fort Peck. With 15 walleye, 22 pike, 8 smallmouth bass, a carp, and a goldeye to show for our 4 days of fishing, we are happy. We keep coming back as it keeps us on our toes. You just never know what to expect when you take a spring fishing trip to Fort Peck. We can’t wait for next year, but we hope we don’t need to fend off another snake any time soon. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment…sorry, none of the snake though.
Bert, Nathan, and Herb